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What we know about the man charged in the Idaho quadruple murders

The Idaho Student Murders
The Idaho Student Murders 40:44

More than six weeks after four college students were slain in an off-campus home in Moscow, Idaho, police arrested a suspect, Bryan Christopher Kohberger, who is charged with their murders. The 28-year-old was arrested on a fugitive from justice warrant at his parents' home in Pennsylvania, police announced on Dec. 30, and extradited to Idaho, where he was formally charged on Jan. 5.

Kohberger is facing four counts of first-degree murder and a count of felony burglary and is being held without bail. Prosecutors announced June 26 they would pursue the death penalty.

At his arraignment on May 22, Kohberger did not respond when the judge asked him in court how he pleaded to the charges, which led the judge to enter not guilty pleas on his behalf. 

The four victims — Madison Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin — were stabbed to death at an off-campus rental home during the early morning hours of Nov. 13. The weeks that followed without an arrest gave rise to mounting national publicity as well as anxiety and speculation about who was responsible.

Monroe County chief public defender Jason LaBar, who represented Kohberger for his extradition hearing in Pennsylvania, told CBS News that police said they knocked on the Kohbergers' door around 3 a.m. Dec. 30, and both the parents and the suspect were "very cooperative." 

Kohberger extradited to Idaho on Jan. 4 after a brief hearing. He appeared in an Idaho court on Jan. 12 and waived his right to a speedy preliminary hearing, with his defense team asking the court for time to prepare for the case. 

A grand jury indicted Kohburger on May 17 on the same four murder charges he was already facing.

Bryan Christopher Kohberger
Bryan Christopher Kohberger was taken into custody in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, on Dec. 30, 2022, in connection with the November murders of four University of Idaho students. Monroe County Correctional Facility

LaBar described the suspect's disposition during their meetings as "very calm."

"He's being very calm. He's very aware. He understands the proceedings," LaBar said. "I did discuss with him what to expect in the upcoming days on his transport, as well as what to expect when he actually returns to Idaho and is likely in front of a magistrate or a judge there."

The attorney also said that Kohberger denies allegations of his involvement in the killings, and believes that he will be exonerated.

"It is a little out of character, he said. I mean, this is not him," LaBar said. "He believes he's going to be exonerated, that's what he believes, those were his words. So, he's really been very easy to talk to actually, and he's in a calm demeanor like I stated."

Idaho authorities initially said state law limited how much information they can release about aspects of the quadruple homicide investigation that led them to Kohberger until the suspect appeared in an Idaho court.

Who is Bryan Kohberger? 

Kohberger was born on Nov. 21, 1994. In 2018, he finished an associate's degree in psychology at Northampton Community College, then went on to complete a bachelor's degree at DeSales University in 2020. He then did further graduate studies at the university, completing those in 2022, a representative for DeSales confirmed.  

At the time of his arrest, Kohberger was a Ph.D. criminology student and teaching assistant at Washington State University's Pullman campus, which is only about a 15-minute drive from Moscow, Idaho. Kohberger had just finished his first semester at WSU, the school said in a statement

In a separate statement released the following day, WSU's Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology said it was "relieved that justice will be carried out."

"The Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Washington State University is aggrieved by the alleged horrendous acts of one of its graduate students," read the Dec. 31 statement, which was posted to the department's homepage on the university's website. "We are relieved that justice will be carried out. Our hearts are with the victims' families."

Moscow Police Chief James Fry confirmed in a news conference that Kohberger lived in Washington state, and the college said that university police assisted Idaho law enforcement officials in executing a search warrant at Kohberger's on-campus apartment and office. 

Idaho murders suspect to be arraigned 03:33

One of Kohberger's neighbors in Pullman, Washington, said the suspect spoke to him about the killings days after they occurred. 

"He brought it up in conversation," the neighbor, who asked not to be identified, told CBS News on Jan. 11. "[He] asked if I had heard about the murders, which I did. And then he said, 'Yeah, seems like they have no leads. Seems like it was a crime of passion.'"

"At the time of our conversation, it was only a few days after it happened, so there wasn't much details out," the neighbor said.

A fellow graduate student in the criminology and criminal justice department at WSU told The Associated Press that the news of Kohberger's arrest was "pretty out of left field."

Ben Roberts said he took several courses with Kohberger after the two started the program together in August. Kohberger "was always looking for a way to fit in," Roberts told the AP.

Roberts said Kohberger would "find the most complicated way to explain something."

"He had to make sure you knew that he knew it," Roberts added.

LaBar described Kohberger as "very calm. He's very intelligent, and he was fairly shocked" by the arrest.

His parents were "just really shocked," LaBar said, and they said this is "out of character" for their son.

In a statement LaBar shared Jan. 1 on behalf of Kohberger's parents and two sisters, the family said they were praying for the families of the victims, and said they "have fully cooperated with law enforcement agencies" in the investigation.

"First and foremost we care deeply for the four families who have lost their precious children. There are no words that can adequately express the sadness we feel, and we pray each day for them," Kohberger's family said in the statement. "There are no words that can adequately express the sadness we feel, and we pray each day for them."

"We will continue to let the legal process unfold and as a family we will love and support our son and brother," they added. "We have fully cooperated with law enforcement agencies in an attempt to seek the truth and promote his presumption of innocence rather than judge unknown facts and make erroneous assumptions. We respect privacy in this matter as our family and the families suffering loss can move forward through the legal process."

In an interview with NBC's "Today" show, LaBar said Kohberger's family is "obviously shocked" by the charges brought against him and "don't want to try this case in the court of public opinion," particularly because key details about the police investigation have not been released yet.

"They don't believe it to be Bryan. They can't believe this. They're obviously shocked. This is certainly completely out of character, the allegations," said LaBar. "And, really, they're just trying to be supportive with the understanding these four families have suffered loss and they're sympathetic towards that." 

Where does the investigation stand? 

Kohberger is in jail in Latah County, Idaho, where he is being held without bail after his extradition from Pennsylvania. While the probable cause affidavit and other documents have shed some light on the investigation and how Kohberger was arrested, investigators have said they will not share much information publicly to avoid problems at trial. 

The unsealed affidavit showed what investigators believe Kohberger did on the night of the brutal murders. One of the surviving residents said she saw a figure clad in black in the home, wearing a mask and walking towards her, after hearing crying noises. The figure, alleged to be Kohberger, walked past her and left the home. Analysis of surveillance footage showed that a white Hyundai Elantra, like the one that was seized when Kohberger was arrested, drove around the home several times between 3:29 a.m. and 4:04 a.m. before departing at a "high rate of speed" at 4:20 a.m., the affidavit said.

The police chief said some of the 19,000 tips that police received were integral to arresting Kohberger, but declined to say when he became a suspect or what brought him to their attention. Law enforcement sources told CBS News that forensic analysis allegedly linked Kohberger to the crime scene in Idaho, and the affidavit states that DNA was found on a knife sheath left at the scene of the murders.  

Police also served a warrant on Kohberger's apartment in Washington state. While police still have not found a murder weapon, they did discover a reddish-brown stained pillowcase, a nitrite-type black glove and hair strands. Investigators had been hoping to find dog hair, because one victim owned a dog, which was at the scene of the crime.  

Police announce arrest in murders of 4 University of Idaho students 24:38

Those sources told CBS News that FBI agents had conducted surveillance operations on Kohberger in Pennsylvania, tracking his movements on the days before he was taken into custody. Fry, the police chief, said that it was a "fairly sleepless couple days" leading up to Kohberger's arrest. 

"I have faith in those agencies across the nation, I have faith in our officers, I have faith in the FBI, and they did a great job," Fry said. 

Fry said police have not found the murder weapon, but that they had recovered a Hyundai Elantra. Investigators said several weeks ago that they were looking for the occupant or occupants of a 2011-2013 white Hyundai Elantra that was "in the area" when the students were killed.

According to Kohberger's lawyer, Kohberger and his father drove home together from Pullman, Washington, to Pennsylvania in the Elantra. The drive took about two and a half days and had been pre-planned from when Kohberger started classes at Washington State University. The two arrived in Pennsylvania around Dec. 17, the lawyer said. 

Fry declined to say if there was any possible connection between the victims and Kohberger, and did not share a motive for the killings. The probable cause affidavit does not provide any more information, but phone data records obtained through a search warrant showed the suspect's phone in the "coverage area" of 1122 King Road on at least 12 occasions before the murders took place.

"These murders have shaken our community and no arrest will ever bring back these young students. However, we do believe justice will be found through the criminal process," Fry said. 

Anam Siddiq and Emily Mae Czachor contributed to this report.

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